My 5-year-old daughter Sophie is currently unwell with a virus that is going around her school at the moment. She has typical cold symptoms, runny nose, congestion, cough, fever, and she is off her food and has very low energy. Half of her class isn’t at school at the moment and most parents have told me this virus has wiped their child out for the whole week with them mainly suffering with a high temperature. So besides plenty of rest and keeping up her fluids, what have I done to help my daughter recover?
My daughter’s temperature was 38.4 degrees celsius this afternoon. I am not concerned that she has a fever as her body is doing exactly what it should be doing. Raising the body’s temperature is the immune system’s response to fighting off the virus. She hasn’t been distressed or bothered by the temperature as yet, so I haven’t given her any medication to bring down the fever. The American academy of pediatrics explain that a fever ‘has beneficial effects in fighting infection’ and ‘there is no evidence that fever itself worsens the course of an illness or that it causes long-term neurological complications’. So when we give our children medication to lower the temperature, it is only to make our children more comfortable not to try and normalise their body temperature.
Sophie is also suffering with a cough which is made worse when she lies down. I gave her a medication called Hedera helix (Ivy leaf extract) – There are a few different brands currently on the market eg. Prospan and Little coughs. Ivy leaf extract does not suppress a cough. It loosens mucus so that your baby/child can cough up the mucus and get it off their chest. It also has a soothing effect on the airways and stops the cough that ‘hurts’ whilst relaxing the airways. It can be used in infants and children and is the only cough medicine available and safe for children under 6 years of age. I notice that my children after I give them a dose of the Ivy Leaf extract, they initially cough a little more to expel what was sitting in their airways and then I find they have a peaceful night sleep with the odd cough here and there. Prospan is more concentrated than Little coughs. In the past, Sophie has vomited after taking a dose of Prospan, whereas my youngest can take it with no ill effects. However they both can take the less concentrated Little Cough liquid with no side effects. In 2% of children, Ivy leaf extract can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, it is worth trying, as it has been proven to be effective.
Since Sophie is prone to suffering with asthma that is triggered only by a cold or flu, her doctor now recommends us to use 2 different inhalers with a spacer and mask when we notice Sophie coughing due to a respiratory infection. One inhaler will open and relax the smooth muscle in the airways and the other inhaler has an anti-inflammatory effect on her airways. If you can’t control your child’s cough at night, it is important to speak to your family GP.
I always put a vaporiser on when my children are unwell with a cough or nasal congestion- A vaporiser won’t necessarily stop a cough, but it adds moisture to the air in your baby/child’s room. This allows your child to breathe more comfortably and stops the cold dry air hitting the airways, which often triggers the airway to constrict and cause your baby/child to cough. The water in the vaporiser causes the steam to generate and that’s what makes your baby/child breathe easier. If eucalyptus is added to a vaporiser, always keep the door open to prevent the eucalyptus concentration building up in the room. I would also recommend on those cold nights, if you have heating, to make your child’s bedroom temperature around 19-20 degrees, just for the same reason, it stops the cold air hitting the lungs and causing constriction.
Baby Vicks eucalyptus rub- Rubbing Vicks on your baby/child’s feet and putting socks on, really helps a cough. I honestly don’t know how it works but whenever I rub it on my children’s feet, they often have a better night’s sleep with a lot less coughing. Vicks BabyBalsam is also great on the chest, allowing the vapor to relieve a blocked nose. Vicks BabyBalsam can be used from 3 months of age.
Nasal saline sprays eg Flo and Fess are a great way to allow you to clear your child’s nasal discharge and ease a blocked nose. The pressure of a saline spray can clear the mucus as well as tickling the nose to cause a sneeze. The more frequently you use the nasal saline sprays/drops and the earlier you use them, the better the results.
So the above tips are what I do to help make suffering with a cold a little more tolerable but whilst helping with those symptoms I also try and give her immune system a boost too. A great way to do this is by encouraging them to eat fresh fruit and veggies especially ones packed with Vitamin C eg plenty of berries, kiwi fruit, oranges etc. However often when children are unwell their appetites can be suppressed and it is hard to get good healthy food into them. So what I’ve been giving Sophie and more to the point what she will actually take is:
- Probiotic– I give Sophie a probiotic made by bioceuticals called Ultrabiotic factors which are a pleasant tasting strawberry chewable tablet which contain 15 billion cfu (colony forming units) in each tablet. She takes 2 daily and they can be given for a child 2-12 years, and the strains that are in the probiotic really help to support the immune system and have been shown to reduce the number of missed days at school due to the common cold.
- Immunofactors for juniors– This is a powder that can be given to children 2 years and older. It is a powder that can be mixed with water or juice and is a pleasant tasting watermelon and berry flavour which contain a mix of immune boosters eg Elderflower, Elderberry, Quercetin, Vitamin A, C and Zinc. Whilst supporting the immune system it has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory infections.
It’s always important if your child is not improving after 48 hours to see your family GP.
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also, if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was, or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.
Disclaimer – The material on this blog is only to be used for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before applying the methods, medicines, techniques or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. The names of people mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect the real patient’s confidentiality.